E tipu e rea 

Grow tender shoot

Sir Apirana Ngata

The guiding words “E tipu, e rea” were handwritten by one of New Zealand’s foremost educationalists, Sir Āpirana Ngata, in 1949 inside of the autograph book of a young Māori schoolgirl, Rangi Bennett. Her parents wanted her to be inspired to make the best of her life, and Sir Āpirana’s words are as relevant today for young Māori as they were then to young Rangi. 

Sir Apirana Ngata (1874–1950), of Ngāti Porou, was born at Te Araroa on the East Coast. He graduated from Te Aute College, and later completed an MA and a law degree. He was the first Māori to complete a degree at a New Zealand University. He returned to the East Coast and became involved in improving Māori social and economic conditions. He went on to become an accomplished and prominent New Zealand politician and lawyer. He has often been described as the foremost Maori politician to have ever served in Parliament, and is also known for his work in promoting and protecting Maori culture and language.


E Tipu e Rea is a charitable organisation (CC53225) established to support the delivery of better educational outcomes for at-risk young people, a group of students defined by the Ministry of Education to be ‘priority learners’, a group made up Maori, Pasifika, Decile 1-3 and special needs students, a group that Sir Toby Curtis considers have been poorly served by New Zealand’s generally very good state school system ‘for the last 178 years’. 

Our Board of Directors and advisors comprise some of New Zealand’s most respected Māori and non-Māori educationalists, kaumātua, business and community leaders, and sporting greats.

Everybody knows someone for whom the traditional school system does not work.

A childhood friend or classmate. A child, mokopuna, or a member of your extended whānau. Or, perhaps, this was you.

If, for whatever reason, a child just doesn’t fit in at school, they will invariably drift and underachieve, or drop out and fall by the wayside.

Futures become limited, access to job opportunities are restricted, and once bright lights are steadily dimmed.

Families, communities and taxpayers are left counting the costs of lives that never reached their full potential.

Young Māori and Pasifika kids, in particular, are the most at risk. The statistics paint an often bleak picture for them as they enter adulthood without the tools necessary to get by or succeed.

One size does not fit all

We have a good state education system in New Zealand but it has failed to address the educational under-achievement of Maori and Pasifika students. 

Against the backdrop of New Zealand literacy, mathematics and science achievement declining against global benchmarks, Maori students lead truancy and exclusion statistics and are achieving educational success well below that of NZ Pakeha students.  (www.educationcounts.govt.nz) . As Sir Toby Curtis says, ‘the state education system has failed Maori for more than 178 years’. 

Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua have provided these children and their families with a schooling option that demonstrated success and provided a key means for these children to escape deprivation and despair. 

Instead of continuing to watch these kids fail, Kura Hourua were established to give them a hand up.

Kura Hourua have given these students identity, pride and self-belief. They are nurtured, encouraged, and provided with opportunities ‘outside of the square’ so they can learn, find their vocation, lead fulfilling lives, and ultimately thrive. 

Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua

In 2011, Partnerships Schools/Kura Hourua were introduced as an alternative to the mainstream, and to provide flexibility in teaching and learning.

These schools successfully use tailored, innovative approaches to engage students in core academic subjects – English, Maths and Science – as well as delivering technical skills and vocational training, alongside the basic New Zealand curriculum.  

Eleven schools progressively opened around the country, with state funding on a cashed-up per student basis exactly equivalent to a regular state school, though with much lower start-up funding. Businesses and iwi have supported and invested in them. They have given a fresh start to more than 1,500 young people, many of whom had ‘given up’ on regular schooling because they didn’t fit neatly or conveniently into the traditional box.

Despite resistance mainly from teacher unions (who don’t like flexibility, and would rather stick to a system that works best for their collective interests rather than the individual needs of students), the Partnership Schools / Kura Hourua model has worked well for the communities they serve. So much so that demand for new student enrolments has exceeded 20%, year on year average.

The Government's decision to close Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua took no account of the evidence of their success or impacts on pupils, their whanau, or the wider school community

Both Minister Hipkins Cabinet Paper (Cabinet-Paper-Policy-Proposals-for-Updating-the-Educ.) recommending the closure of Kura Hourua and the repealing of Partnership School | Kura Hourua legislation (via the Education Amendment Bill 2018), and the Ministry of Education’s Regulatory Impact Statement (Andrea Schollmann, 16 January 2018) (1089817-Dep-Sec-signed-Regulatory Impact Statement – Partnership-Schools) pointed out that there had been no consultation with interested and affected parties and that the decision to close existing Kura Hourua and prevent any new Kura Hourua from opening took no account of evidence of their success. 

Minister Hipkin’s decision was at odds with public comments made by Minister Hipkins himself, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Hon Meka Whaitiri, Hon Willie Jackson and Labour Party Deputy Leader Hon Kelvin Davis. In essence all stated that ‘no Charter School would be closed that taught the New Zealand Curriculum, that employed registered teachers, and had comparable costs to state schools.  Despite these conditions being met, the Minister of Education’s officials have ensured that existing ‘Charter Schools’ will be closed by the end of the 2018 school year. 

Additionally, the Education Amendment Bill, when passed into legislation, will ensure no new partnership schools can open. 

The contracts each school entered into with the Crown included the right for the Minister of Education to terminate these contracts ‘at ‘the Minister’s convenience’, which is what is happening, despite these young schools delivering very good results for  their 1500 at-risk students, that is, contracts entered into in good faith for an initial term of six years (with two further rights of renewal for six years each) are being terminated ‘for convenience’. The first four schools opened in 2014, the newest opened in 2018.

It is noteworthy that contract termination notices were issued to the schools before the Education and Workforce Parliamentary Select Committee has heard submissions on the Bill to remove partnership schools from the Education Amendment Act 1984.

Alleged breach of key Treaty of Waitangi principles by the Crown

Sir Toby Curtis, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and Dame Tariana Turia have filed a Treaty of Waitangi Claim ( TNH-102641-2-1-10 Statement of Claim Final ) based on the Crown breaching key principles of the Treaty in closing Kura Hourua and that by so doing have disproportionately prejudiced Maori educational well being. Six of the eleven existing Kura Hourua, and two of the Kura Hourua scheduled to open in 2019 are run by Māori education providers and have from 87% to 100% Maori students, all of whom are described by the Ministry of Education as ‘priority learners’, a group of students made up of Maori, Pasifika, and decile 1-3 students. This group of students is accorded ‘priority’ status due to their historic and inter-generational educational under-achievement. As Sir Toby Curtis explained to the Select Committee, ‘the state education system has been failing Maori for the last 178 years.’ In closing Kura Hourua the Government is preventing parents from choosing a school outside the state system that is within their means and that best suits the needs of their ‘priority learner’ children. By denying the communities of these schools the right to prior consultation, the Crown has disregarded the underlying principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and ignored basic rights of their Treaty partner.
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